Here is the thing, two days ago I wrote an article about Facebook’s Graph Search and how the inclusion of hashtags into Facebook’s search algorithm is going to improve the brands social search capabilities however I specfically forgot to ask a simple question. Facebook is new to hashtags and intends them to act as they do on Twitter. Twitter has hashtags and is the go to source for all things social search based on hashtags. Questions: Does Facebook honestly think they are going to beat Twitter at their own game? With the inclusion of hashtags into Facebook’s search algorithms, do they think Twitter users will flock to Facebook for breaking news, events or on going coverage of stories? Are Facebook hashtags going to make even the slightest bit of difference for breaking news coverage? More to the point, who the fuck cares?
Twitter Breaks News Before News Outlets Break News
The best thing about Twitter is its ability to break news before any major news source can break the news. While CNN was or is (who knows?) investing in their iReporter coverage (from what I can tell, it’s mostly pictures of snow storms and rain fall), Twitter is true on the ground, from the people, live reporting. Twitter breaks news to the world for the sole reason that where ever news is happening, someone has a Twitter account. Point in case, the image below:
Before any news network knew what was going on, the recent SFO plane crash, was streaming live across Twitter. From plane passengers, to on lookers on the runway, to on lookers waiting to catch a flight inside the SFO terminal, the news and the details of the plane crash proved to be more targeted, factual and up to the second than the major news networks could muster. Why? Like it or not, people can report on the ground what is happening while major news networks are forced to hold their dick and wait for verification on information. The world goes to Twitter for news now. The major news networks follow suit.
Hashtags Have Established Twitter as a News Source
Here lies the major hill Facebook is going to have to climb. Even when the major news networks get a hold of a story, more often then not, they will flash a number of tweets from eyewitness’s of the event across the screen. Twitter is so influential in breaking news that 140 characters from a politician, a photo of a crime scene from a neighbor, a linked blog covering the events can play across millions of TV screens on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the like. You don’t see this with Facebook posts. You don’t see CNN or the like talking about the most recent Barack Obama Facebook post but you do see coverage of his Twitter posts. This is going to be the major uphill battle for Facebook. They need to show and convince the public and major news networks to go to them for breaking news, to validate breaking news because it is being reported via the new Facebook Hashtag system. Will they win this war? Personally, I wouldn’t bet against Zuck but I honestly believe Twitter is so established, so ingrained in culture, so important to breaking news, that Facebook will not tackle Twitter.
Aside from the obvious players (Facebook, Twitter, major news networks), the real question here is: who cares? Are roughly 500 million Twitter users going to flock to Facebook for breaking news coverage simply because Zuck’s company now has hashtags? No. If you think otherwise, you’re eyes aren’t open. This won’t happen because Facebook isn’t a social media engine designed for breaking news and covering hot topics like Twitter is. Facebook is a social media medium for seeing photos of your friends kids or sharing the latest update on how much you hate work. It isn’t a medium for breaking news. As such, who cares?